NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – New York City drivers know the signs well – “Don’t block the box” at busy intersections.
But some drivers in Queens say they’re being cornered into a ticket trap and police are pouncing, CBS2’s Jessica Layton reports.
During the chaos of the afternoon rush in Ridgewood, Queens, residents say they can count on seeing four or five traffic cops standing on the corner of Metropolitan Avenue and 60th Street, doing nothing to help traffic flow.
“This is absolutely ridiculous,” one man said.
But residents say they’re happy to head into the street the second the light turns read, ticketing drivers caught in the box.
“People are barely able to afford food and pay rent, and they’re over here poaching for tickets. It’s just not American,” the man added.
“One hundred percent, I was caught off guard,” says Nicolas Kempijan.
He says he knows his car shouldn’t have been stopped in the area between the crosswalks, because it’s illegal. But he calls the intersection a ticket trap.
“One hundred fifteen dollars,” he says. “That really hurts, like you have no idea.”
The latest crackdown on those blocking the box is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative to end dangerous driving in New York City.
“Giving a ticket and not really helping traffic. They’re just standing there,” another ticketed driver added.
Neighbors feel the crackdown takes advantage of motorists at a poorly designed intersection.
“I say, ‘listen, it looks like you’re doing something like entrapment.’ And he said, ‘you’re absolutely right, ma’am,’” neighbor Elaine Ramos says. “He said, ‘but my orders were to give tickets, not control traffic.”
Drivers say the problem is the area is so congested and the lights on Metropolitan Avenue are so close together that you can be stalled at a green light with no place to go, and then it turns red and you’re in a bad spot.
“I was like, you could sit here all day and you could give out 1,000 tickets. I was like, this intersection is a mess,” Kempijan says.
Perhaps from the police perspective, that’s exactly the point.
The city never answered CBS2’s repeated questions about why they’re quick to write tickets but not help traffic move along.